German Bundesliga Preview

Another week of league action is said and done, Bayern Munich remaining five points ahead of Borussia Dortmund with only eight matches left to play. Both sides picked up routine wins at the weekend, Munich running out 5-0 winners over a helpless and completely outclassed Werder Bremen side. Both of the Bundesliga giants also have pressing European campaigns to attend to and one has to feel that there is still a lot of drama left to unfold this season.  

Friday 18 March

5/4 Schalke | Draw 26/10 | Monchengladbach 39/20 (21:30)

Schalke slumped to a 2-0 defeat at Hertha Berlin last weekend in a poor showing from the Royal Blues. Berlin could have won by a much larger scoreline if not for a plethora of wasted chances. Schalke may very well come to rue their inconsistency this season with tough competition for a place in the Champions League. Monchengladbach moved up to fourth spot with a comfortable 3-0 win at home against Eintracht Frankfurt. They’ve lost only once in their last five matches and are now three points behind the men from the capital. However, Schalke are a difficult team at Veltins-Arena, having lost only three times in the past 16 fixtures at the ground. There’s often goals galore in Schalke and Over 2.5 Goals looks a shrewd bet at 5/10.

Saturday 19 March

4/10 Wolfsburg | 7/2 | Darmstadt 6/1 (16:30)

Wolfsburg’s hopes of Champions League qualification took a dent on their trip to lowly Hoffenheim. An early goal from the home side condemned Wolfsburg to a 1-0 defeat that once again brought their poor form on the road into the spotlight. Eight points back from third spot means that they can’t afford to drop many more points if they still possess hopes of staying in Europe’s premier competition. Darmstadt squandered a two-goal lead at home against Augsburg at the weekend, which leaves the club a mere three points above the drop zone. Wolves are strong at home and backing them to win at 4/10 – should be a safe bet. 

12/10 Hamburg | 24/10 | Hoffenheim 9/4 (16:30)

Hamburg heaped pressure on a Bayer Leverkusen side desperately holding onto a 1-0 lead at the weekend but the club simply couldn’t find their way through an inspirational performance from Bernd Leno. It was an own goal that gifted Leverkusen the lead and Hamburg only have themselves to blame for the points dropped. Hoffenheim’s Andrej Kramaric scored in the third minute against Wolfsburg, enough to see his side claim all three points. Hoffenheim still remain second-from-bottom but are now only three points behind other ‘at-risk’ clubs Augsburg, Darmstadt and Werder Bremen. Hamburg haven’t lost at home in four straight matches and I’m tipping them to win at 12/10. 

5/4 Werder Bremen | 5/2 | Mainz 2/1 (16:30)

Werder Bremen’s run of two consecutive victories was ended by obvious opposition in Bayern Munich. Bremen were thrashed 5-0 at the Allianz Arena and failed to compete almost from the first touch of the ball. Werder Bremen are now precariously placed three points above the relegation zone and will be desperate for victory against a very handy Mainz side. Mainz lost 2-0 on their visit to Borussia Dortmund but will not be disheartened by the loss. They’ve dropped points in only two of their last eight matches and will be intent on keeping the pressure on the more illustrious clubs above them. Back the away victory in this one at 2/1. 

25/2 Cologne | 5/1 | Bayern Munich 2/9 (16:30)

Cologne reversed their woeful run of recent results with a 2-0 victory on the road at Hannover. Leonardo Bittencourt scored a brace against the run of play to ensure that Cologne kept a comfortable place in mid-table. Nevertheless, the goodwill from the three points gained is unlikely to spill over into this encounter. Bayern Munich were ruthless against Werder Bremen, just what Pep Guardiola needs as the club chases a magnificent treble. Concentration is key for the Bavarians - who began to slip up as the pressure mounted towards the close of last season. Bayern to Win + Over 3.5 Goals is my tip in this one at a valuable 31/20. 

19/20 Hertha Berlin | 22/10 | Ingolstadt 32/10 (16:30)

Hertha Berlin strengthened their grip on a place in the Champions League next season with an easy 2-0 victory over Schalke last weekend. Vedad Ibisevic and Niklas Stark scored the goals for the Old Lady, who have won three of their past four matches after an indifferent patch of form. They haven’t lost at Olympiastadion since October last year and are likely to make life very difficult for Ingolstadt. The small Bavarian club shared the spoils with Stuttgart last weekend in a six-goal thriller. Ingolstadt had a 3-1 lead which they relinquished in the dying minutes and to settle for their fourth draw in a row. Comfortable in mid-table, Ingolstadt will be pleased with the constant stream of points. I’m tipping that to end here. Take Hertha Berlin for the home win at 19/20. 

8/10 Eintracht Frankfurt | 28/10 | Hannover 36/10 (19:30)

Niko Kovac’s debut as Frankfurt manager ended in a woeful 3-0 defeat at Monchengladbach. The enormity of the task ahead of the Croatian was made apparent as Frankfurt were easily beaten and remained third-from-bottom. Kovac’s contract will be terminated if Frankfurt fail to stay in the top flight. Hannover were pushed closer to relegation as they fell to a disappointing 2-0 loss at home to Cologne this past weekend. This is an extremely important match for both sides and if Hannover fail to beat Frankfurt, the likelihood of relegation becomes infinitely more likely. They’re already seven points off the pace; 10 points could be the nail in the coffin. I’m tipping the home win at 8/10.

Sunday 20 March

29/20 Stuttgart | 51/20 | Bayer Leverkusen 17/10 (16:30)

Stuttgart’s inspirational rise up the Bundesliga table to 11th place was built off a streak of five straight wins in December, January and February. Although they’ve only picked up one victory since, they’ve consolidated their position in mid-table and are no longer battling relegation. Stuttgart are still susceptible to a poor performance and hosting Bayer Leverkusen will be a challenge. Leverkusen returned to winning ways on manager Roger Schmidt’s first game back from suspension, but the club were far from convincing and have experienced a poor run of form. It was a young and experimental side that took the pitch in Leverkusen’s last outing and I’m expecting the Bundesliga giants to be shown up here. Back the Stuttgart win at 29/20. 

57/10 Augsburg | 7/2 | Borussia Dortmund 9/20 (18:30)

Augsburg secured a point in the last minute of their match with Darmstadt, fighting back in the second-half from a two-goal deficit. Koo Ja-cheol went down very easily in the area and was granted a controversial penalty which spared Augsburg more blushes. The club is without a win in their last five matches and will be desperate to leave with something against a very dangerous Dortmund. BVB disposed of Mainz 2-0 at home in the last match of last weekend, returning to late Sunday action with their second-leg Europa League tie with Tottenham in midweek likely to see the club through to the next round. It will be a draining week however and Thomas Tuchel is under pressure to rotate his squad correctly in order to maximise all results. I feel that Dortmund will have enough to collect three points at 9/20. 

Bundesliga Picks
Schalke OVER 2.5 GOALS 5/10
Wolfsburg WIN 4/10
Hamburg WIN 12/10
Mainz WIN 2/1
Bayern to WIN + OVER 3.5 GOALS 31/20
Hertha Berlin WIN 19/20
Frankfurt WIN 8/10
Stuttgart WIN 29/20
Dortmund WIN 9/20

Written by Rick John Henry